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Starlight Kid’s New Attitude

2 years ago

Starlight Kid’s New Attitude

How a Descent into Darkness Liberated Oedo Tai’s Marvel

By Trent Breward

It’s been an astonishing year for Stardom’s performers, and none more captivating than the sinister Starlight Kid. For years she was considered the shining future of the company as a charismatic high-flying athlete who fed off the crowd and rewarded their support – all the qualities you could want in a growing heroine. But things would change for Kid, and Joshi wrestling as a whole, in dramatic fashion in 2021.

It wasn’t a willing departure from Kid’s prior disposition, at least not at first. First the fire inside her was stoked by a Civil War within her former faction, STARS, and led to the splitting off of Tam Nakano and Cosmic Angels. The fire was stoked further when the brash leader of Donna Del Mondo, Giulia, quickly staked her claim as a harbinger of this “new era” for Stardom.

Starlight Kid and Giulia would fight for the Wonder of Stardom Championship on February 13th at Korakuen Hall in an intense war, but during the final stretch Giulia crossed the line. She began to tear away at Kid’s mask, trying to rip it off and expose her identity. Her precious mask hung loosely over her face as she was choked out to the Stealth Viper submission hold. As a final insult, Giulia finished what she started, claiming the mask from her after the match.

Starlight Kid had lost before, but never in such a humiliating fashion.

It wasn’t the first time Kid’s mask had been taken from her, but there was a certain malice behind Giulia’s actions. She is an antagonist at heart, typically rewarded handsomely for her work. While Kid was mired in the midcard, Giulia waltzed straight to the top of Stardom.

Maybe, the good girl routine wasn’t the path that would bring Starlight Kid success.

Kid barely had time to consider her future. Weakened from losing the Cosmic Angels from their group, STARS were left vulnerable to the villainous Oedo Tai (Issue #5: Stardom’s falling STARS). Youngsters Ruaka and Rina defected to Oedo Tai, and during a “loser leaves their group” elimination tag match at Yokohama Dream Cinderella on April 4th, 2021, STARS suffered two more devastating losses: Saya Iida tore her ACL mid-match and Fukigen Death was pinned, moving her over to the dark side.

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Still, the new chess pieces didn’t satisfy the monopolistic Oedo Tai leader, Natsuko Tora. She wanted the heart of STARS – she wanted Starlight Kid – the second in command, and Mayu Iwatani’s heir apparent.

The stakes could not be higher at Tokyo Dream Cinderella on June 12th, when an all-out battle lasted until Oedo Tai ran interference and tied Mayu up in the corner during their second elimination tag match. They made her watch as Natsuko planted Kid with a Death Valley Driver and pinned her, winning not just the match but Kid herself.

Oedo Tai didn’t suit Starlight Kid, not at first. The purple t-shirt hung awkwardly from her slumped shoulders. She stood away from the group as they’d gang up on a wrestler behind the referee’s back. But there was consistency in her competitiveness: Kid still fought hard, even beating her old team in her first match under the Oedo Tai banner. Slowly but surely, she began to look more comfortable standing alongside Natsuko, Konami and the others.

Each new mask she wore had a little less color, the last remnants of her STARS self clinging on for life. And yet, she still harbored a hesitation to embrace the darker attitude and win-at-all costs mentality shared within her new group. Whether or not Natsuko Tora had initially expected her to warm to the group, she started to play her newest talent like a puppet.

“STARS has already taken off without you. You’re the only one that’s stalling,” Tora told her. She then brought Kid a present, a new all-black mask. Tora made the offer clear-cut: Accept the mask, and embrace the new Starlight Kid. The black the mask was possessed; it would be a major decision. When Starlight Kid picked it up off the mat a sly, mischievous smile crossed her red lips. It was unlike her and worried many fans at home and abroad, while curiously earning her a legion of new ones. But the decision was made.

The darkness was calling, beckoning her to find new power within herself. She began to look content to leave behind the bright colors in favor of her now-trademark black and purple. Instead of waving to fans when her entrance music hit, she would sway to it in an almost trance-like state on her way to the ring.

Possessed with New Power

Over the course of the summer, Kid saw firsthand the spoils of war Oedo Tai had earned. To an outsider they’re a bunch of misfit rule breakers, but there is a sense of family within the faction; almost like a badass, all-female Yakuza group. It’s why Tam Nakano was so distraught when she was forced to leave. It’s why Kagetsu passed on her Jitte to Natsuko Tora in a symbolic gesture. It’s why they managed to have Saki Kashima, Bea Priestley, Konami, Ruaka, and Rina all betray their former friends (often violently) in order to join a faction that on the surface wasn’t doing so well.

“I want to get better and eventually surpass Mayu by her side… I will always be by your [Mayu] side, no matter what,” Starlight Kid promised during an interview with Weekly Pro Wrestling back in May. Two months later in Takadanobaba, when presented with the chance to once again stand alongside Mayu, she chose to stand opposite her.

“When I’m on equal footing, maybe you can stand next to me. That’s why I want to build a name for myself with Oedo Tai and become stronger! I’m going to become Mayu’s biggest rival!”

As a member of Oedo Tai, Starlight Kid no longer stands in anyone’s shadow. She created her own, and it looms large over Iwatani. Kid has won championships, now free to develop in a way that wouldn’t be possible before.

With STARS she couldn’t see the forest for the trees, her friendship and adoration of Mayu blinded her to the truth. Only when forced to take a step back with Oedo Tai could she realize what had to be done to accomplish her goals. Many have stood alongside Stardom’s Icon only to walk away and become stronger.

Embrace the darkness, rebuild herself in a new, stronger image – only then could she surpass Mayu and become her biggest rival. Friendship sacrificed to feed her lustrous desires.

A Joshi Phenom Is Born

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This isn’t a completely different performer. The “Sky Tiger” of old still resides in her athleticism and fiery energy, but now that energy is directed in a more aggressive manner. Whereas once upon a time Kid wouldn’t dream of cheating, now she relishes in the gang tactics that Oedo Tai employs. Her moonsault still draws awe and can finish opponents, but she’s also introduced a devastating tombstone piledriver finisher – debuted in brutal fashion against her own stablemate, Saki Kashima – showing that even Starlight Kid’s new family won’t get in the way of her own desire for success.

The latest manifestation of this egotistical turn is perhaps her most visceral. With her opponent defeated and laid out on the mat, Starlight Kid will take the mask that was given to her by Natsuko Tora – and wrap it across her opponent’s face before gesturing a slitting of the throat, a la The Undertaker. In a promotion that rarely strays into the macabre, the visual of Starlight Kid effectively killing off her old self through the form of her vanquished foe is wonderfully disturbing.

This has been the goal of her transformation all along: to shed the skin of her naïve teenage self and emerge a stronger woman. Her potential to find an “extra gear” is already being unlocked.

Seven times Starlight Kid had tried to capture the High Speed Championship and seven times she had fallen short of her goal. After embracing her new sadistic side, however, she captured it in riveting fashion at Belle Salle Shiodome on August 28th.

Before, her eternal rival AZM had beaten her to the title and drove her with jealousy. She watched AZM climb to newfound heights through 2020 while she languished as a member of a rapidly declining STARS faction, forced to focus on keeping a sinking ship afloat rather than blossom into her true potential as a young star. It’s no coincidence that the first time Starlight Kid fed into Oedo Tai’s antics was in a match against teenage wildthing AZM. It got her disqualified, but it didn’t seem to bother her. It wasn’t about the result, it was about sending a message. AZM had grown, and now Kid had too.

Perhaps the biggest signal of how things have changed was pointed out by Mina Shirakawa, who was on English commentary for Starlight Kid’s big match on the final day of the 5 Star Grand Prix against Mayu Iwatani. She noted how Kid always used to refer to her mentor as Mayu-san, a designation of respect in Japanese culture. As she screamed out at her former mentor inside Ota Ward, there was a clear absence of the ‘san’ suffix. The respect was no longer there.

Mayu would go on to win the match, forced to use the Two-Stage Dragon Suplex, a move only used against her most challenging opponents. Afterwards, she offered her hand. Another chance to show respect.

Starlight Kid responded by offering her own hand – not to shake – but to slap.

On that night in September she wasn’t quite good enough to fulfil her ultimate goal and surpass Mayu. She’s getting closer though. As Kid continues to grow in her new character, it feels like only a matter of time until her shadow engulfs not only the Icon of Stardom, but Stardom itself.

Mayu Iwatani had seen her family torn apart, and  what was left of STARS was picked apart by the evil Natsuko Tora the Starlight Kid Drama has been a nightmare for Mayu Iwatani. With tears in her eyes, she promised Kid that she would fight to get her back, but may have nailed shut her own coffin lid. In constantly testing where Kid’s loyalties truly lie, and giving herself over to new STARS member Koguma, she left Kid to question her own path to glory.
It took a month for Mayu to finally lay down a demand to fight for Kid’s freedom – notably the show after Oedo Tai’s leader Natsuko Tora suffered a major injury that would remove her from the equation. In that time Starlight Kid had already accepted the mask that was presented to her. Still, the challenge was accepted.
In Takadanobaba, Mayu Iwatani fought five members of Oedo Tai in a gauntlet match. If she defeated them all, then Kid would get the chance to choose her own fate.
In spite of the near insurmountable odds, Mayu Iwatani emerged victorious. Starlight Kid chose Oedo Tai.

This article was first published in Monthly Puroresu Issue #6

Written by:

After a regular receiving my Bachelor's degree from the University of Tasmania – yes, it's a real place – I went on to hone my writing craft before falling in love with STARDOM. As luck would have it, Thom and I started chatting about Joshi in early 2021, and I've been responsible for spearheading STARDOM content at Monthly Puroresu ever since. My work includes shortform, feature length profiles, op-eds, and Q&As.